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Training seminar Interaction between ethnic associations, administration and law-enforcement agencies


From December 14-16 the Center for Interethnic Cooperation carried out its last undertaking in 2004 at the boarding house Zvenigorod in the Moscow region. 2004 was very productive for us. We conducted two conferences and 16 training seminars in 12 regions of Russia. We worked in Moscow and in the regions Samara, Perm, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, Kaliningrad, Rostov, Nizhnii Novgorod, Volgograd, Astrakhan, Krasnodar and Stavropol. We organized a visit to London for representatives of ethnic associations and police officers from Moscow and Krasnodar. We held press conferences in Moscow, Krasnodar, Nizhnii Novgorod and Ekaterinburg. Correspondingly, we wanted the seminar in Moscow to be carried out at the highest level. And we made every effort to do so.

This last seminar was dedicated to the interaction of ethnic associations, authorities and the police. It was carried out within the framework of the project Ethnic minorities and their access to justice, which is supported by the European Union and the Global Opportunities Fund of the British Foreign Office. The CIC invited the Moscow city government and the administrations of the regions Sverdlovsk, Samara and Krasnodar to take part in the seminar. We also invited representatives of federal authorities: the Committee for Ethnic Issues, the Ministry of Regional Politics and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

One of the seminars objects was to familiarize the participants, in particular the police officers, with the basics of Human Rights protection. We invited a representative of the Council of Europe from the Human Rights Department, and since we know the leaders of our ethnic associations well, we invited 23 persons instead of the planned 15, assuming that a number of them, as a matter of habit, would RSVP but not turn up. In the whole history of ethnic associations in Moscow, only our Center has organized a training with the police. Additionally, a part of our strategy was that the association leaders should not only be able to work together but also relax together. That is why we did not hold the seminar in Moscow but in an out of town boarding house with respectable conditions.

We therefore had no problems with the police staff members. As in other regions, the participation of the police in the seminar was maintained by the Staff Training Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Moreover, on our request they invited Moscow police staff members to the second training, which had distinguished themselves at the first training. It was expected that only on the morning of the 14th December could we tell the boarding house personnel how many participants there would be. The representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the regional administrations from Samara, Sverdlovsk and Krasnodar immediately confirmed their participation. Nadezhda Osipova from the Samara region administration unfortunately could not come to Moscow at the last moment. Governor Titov decided to meet with the leaders of Samara ethnic communities on 16th December.

It should be mentioned that the participation of both Marina Plyasunova from the Sverdlovsk region government and Sergei Mozgovoi from the Krasnodar region administration was financed exclusively by their respective local authorities. In principle, that is not significant, but for us it is an important fact, as it shows the support of authorities of those regions. From Strasbourg, Merja Lahtinen came to Moscow as a representative of the Council of Europes Human Rights Department. However, representatives of the Moscow government, the State Duma and the Ministry of regional politics did not come to the training. Why? Thats hard to say. We didnt get any answer to our letters. But what is most annoying: out of 23 leaders of ethnic associations, only 13 appeared at the seminar. Furthermore, the majority of those who promised to participate were not only absent, but did not even call to inform us that they would not participate. To each his own! We cannot educate the leaders of ethnic associations by force. They are apparently completely content with the state of affairs of their compatriots. Those who promised to participate and in the end did not would doubtlessly use every opportunity to talk about cases of discrimination of members of their communities by police officers. Give them a platform and they can talk very long and seriously about the reasons of such discrimination.

In the six years since the foundation of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, our staff members have taken part in conferences, seminars and meetings in the USA, Great Britain, France and Switzerland. We could never convince ourselves that the citizens of the Russian Federation are inferior to the citizens of those countries in intellect, in analytical skills, or in the willingness to work. But then why are their standards of living much higher than ours? Because our citizens are only theoreticians. When a small but definite step must be done, particularly in public life, people think: Why me? Leaders of ethnic associations are still more prone to this phenomenon. For example, out of some thousands of ethnic associations in Russia, only a small number has a salaried personnel, an office, equipment and a website. The majority of them have never received a grant. As surprising as it may seem, at each of the 8 trainings that we conducted, the police officers were much more disciplined and took part more actively than the leaders of the ethnic associations. As is well-known from conflict theory, conflict is to a certain degree caused by the victim. On the initiative of the city government in Moscow, hotlines are working. Every person confronted with illegal actions of the police can call this line and he or she will find help. But only a few use this offer. Why? Are they afraid? No, they rather dont believe that it makes a difference. In addition, most members of ethnic minorities dont even know about the existence of such a hotline.

In Ekaterinburg the leader of one Caucausian community of the local administration complained about illegal actions of the police during a consultation. Inform us where, when and to whom the police acted in a prejudiced manner, asked the representative of the Central administration of Internal Affairs. The answer was: We are Caucasians, it is not customary to complain! With this the conversation ended. Another example occurred in a school in Moscow when a Caucasian boy beat up a class mate. The parents of both children were summoned to the school. The father of the Caucasian boy threatened to stab the victims parents. The parents were shocked and demanded an excuse. We were told this story and given the phone number of the victims parents. We found out the corresponding Caucasian organization and asked its leader to talk to his compatriots. The intention was very simple. Both father and son should excuse themselves, and this would settle the matter. The leader of the organization was astonished: Do you really think Ill drop everything and go to this school? As a result the victims parents will go to the law. Taking into account the negative public opinion, one can presume that the court wont be very gracious towards the Caucasian father. And if some glib journalist like Yulia Kalinina of the Moskovskii Komsomolets will write about this story, the suffering will not be limited to the direct parties to the conflict.

There are hundreds of similar stories. The fundamental intention of our seminars and trainings is to teach the leaders of ethnic associations to work effectively. At that we give them the unique opportunity to talk to officials and police officers.

The first informal meeting during the seminar in Moscow took place on December 13. This evening a very extraordinary mixture of people met in the banquet room of the boarding house. Besides the Moscow police and those leaders of Moscow ethnic associations who were not too lazy to take part in the seminar, there were participants from Ekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, Saratov and Krasnodar. Of course, as at all former seminars, William Ekinu and Chris Taylor, the representatives of the Greenwich Council for Racial Equality were there, too. As the majority of the participants didnt know each other, the CICs trainer Victoria Shukhat divided them into pairs and asked them to get to know about each other as much as possible within five minutes. At that Victoria organized the pairs in a way that the leaders of ethnic associations got partners out of the police or administration staff members. After five minutes the ceremony started. Ashot Airapetian, CIC director, asked the participants to introduce their partners by way of a toast. We remind that December 13th was a National Holiday in Russia. We decided to make use of this situation and bought enough of inexpensive but good wine. It took two hours to finish the ceremony. People talked a lot and drank little. It turned out to be a very merry occasion and at the same time everyone became familiar with each other. So if on our first seminars an informal or even friendly atmosphere was created during the second or third day, this time we decided to create such a situation on the day before the seminar started. And we were successful! The secret of this success was that most of the participants already were our friends, including the police officers, whom we got to know during the first seminar.

The next day at 10 oclock the official part started. After a short introduction Ashot gave the platform to Ivan Cheslavovich Shushkevich, representative of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). The basic idea of Ivan Cheslavovichs speech was that the police has to become a partner for the citizens. What was especially significant was that he also declared that his department actively works with international organizations (Council of Europe, OSCE, European Commission). The MVD thinks that such projects are useful. Ivan Cheslavovich emphasized that it is impossible to adopt the British experience to Russia mechanically, but to study it would be useful. Soon after his speech, Ivan Cheslavovich returned to Moscow, as the evening of the same day he had to leave for a business trip. The fact that the MVD representative did not stay for the whole three days, just confirms that they trust us in this institution.

The past seminars showed that we are doing good for both ethnic associations and the police. Still, before our seminars started we agreed with Ivan that we wouldnt discuss what separates us (we have enough of such talk), but rather what we have in common. The first seminars in Ekaterinburg, Samara, Anapa, Moscow and Volgograd showed that we indeed have much in common. Thanks to the smaller number of participants and the participation of persons from the first seminar we were able to create some kind of a collective of kindred spirits. The seminar participants were already convinced that it cooperation is necessary and mutually beneficial. On this seminar we had to find an answer to the question: What has to be done that such cooperation would be realized?

These participants of the seminar had to get acquainted with the experiences of interaction between ethnic associations and law-enforcement organs in London, Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar and Saratov. But before that, Ashot Airapetian passed the word on to the representative of the Council of Europe Merja Lahtinen. She told about how the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities relates to law-enforcement organs. Of course, the majority of police officers didnt know about this convention and havent heard that Russia had ratified it. Furthermore, after our presentations on the evening of the 13th, some participants of the seminar asked Merja questions and she understood that some of them still do not know the difference between the Council of Europe and the European Union. Merja explained what the Council of Europe is, what it deals with, and which articles of the Framework Convention concern the police. As an example, she read out the recommendation of the Council of Europe on the results of the realization of this Convention. This recommendation dealt with the Meskhetian Turks living in the Krasnodar region. The Council of Europe is concerned that in the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg and other big cities, the police mainly control documents of immigrants from the Caucasus and Asia.

Further on, Ashot Airapetian asked the representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Department of Humanitarian and Human Rights) Sergey Aleksandrovich Barsukov to comment on the speech done by Merja Lahtinen. Sergey Barsukov spoke very briefly. He said that the problem of ethnic minorities appears to be a whole European one. In 2005 Russia or rather the new Ministry for Regional Politics prepared an official lecture on the implementation of the Framework Convention in Russia. It was planned that this lecture will be discussed in a conference, to which will be invited Russian ethnic associations.

Marina Plyasunova spoke about how our seminar in Ekaterinburg went, and how the interaction between ethnic associations and the Central Directorate of Internal Affairs (GUVD) of the Sverdlovsk Region developed after the seminar. It became immediately obvious that for the participants, police officers and leaders of ethnic associations of Moscow, it was very interesting to listen to representatives of authorities. Marina told about the three-way agreement between leaders of ethnic communities, administration and the GUVD of the Sverdlovsk Region. The three sides are already close to an agreement and after a few more precise details are worked out, it will be signed.

William Ekinu, expert from the Greenwich Council for Racial Equality and emigrant from Uganda, explained how they work in general and how they cooperate with the police in particular. The Greenwich Council is a coalition of ethnic communities. Based upon Williams account, this Council takes on practically all problems which representatives of ethnic minorities are confronted with in London. On the question of, How does one get financed? William answered that 80% of the money is received from the British Government and local authorities. Representatives of our partner organization CAMBA from New York told the leaders of Russian ethnic associations that they receive about the same percentage.Contrary to statements of some of our officials, the basic source of financing of civil society is the state budget. These means are allocated as grants. However, the public organizations can receive the grant only on conditions that they are able to work out projects professionally and they have a good reputation. Associations of public organizations, of course have better chances to win a grant. In Krasnodar, Novosibirsk and St. Petersburg, exist associations of ethnic communities as well. The near-absence of financing does not allow them to effectively influence the interethnic situation in the regions. As a result, active, motivated people have gone into business long ago, where with the same affords one can receive quite noticeable results.

What is the states interest to finance the Greenwich Council? Why does the police cooperate with it? William and Chris Taylor, former Scotland Yard officer, were asked these questions as well. Their answer: To make the public trust the state, the state must share some public responsibilities with society. In Great Britain most law infringements are uncovered with the help of the population. That means the population regards the police as their ally. But this is not a one-sided love. The police does not regard the population as a risk group but as an assistant. This includes ethnic and racial minorities, too. Englishmen like to count their money. They have understood that it is much more economic to support such organizations as the Greenwich Council, where British citizens take care that their compatriots do not infringe on the law, rather than to post a police officer at every corner in order to control the identity papers of all non-English.

The next day Ashot Airapetian told the participants about the results of the former seminars. The lecture was illustrated by pictures projected on the wall. The intention was to let the police officers and leaders of ethnic associations understand that similar seminars in other regions do not turn out less successful. Ashot also talked about which measures were taken in these regions for an interaction between the police and ethnic associations and which role the administration played in this.

Sergei Mozgovoi told about the course of the projects implementation and about the interethnic situation in the Krasnodar region as a whole. Polat Dzhamalov, leader of the Moscow Kazakh national cultural autonomy, Alexander Torokhov, leader of the Gypsy organization Roma Ural from Ekaterinburg and Larisa Guketleva, leader of the Moscow Cherkess organization reported about their impressions of their visit to London.

It has to be mentioned that Victoria from time to time carried out interactive games to keep up the bright mood among the seminar participants. For example she divided the all participants into the categories police staff members and organization leaders and asked them to form two lines. Then she said a feature as first letter of the name, number of the apartment etc., asked the players to form a new line according to this feature. The winner was the group which fulfilled the task most quickly and correctly. As in other cities, the police officers team won the game.

On the third day, after the seminar participants had already received a lot of information, it was time to determine what such a cooperation could be in Moscow. Victoria divided the participants in four mixed groups. After 20 minutes one member of each group presented the results. Then the participoants were asked to rate the most important points. These are the results:

  • To improve the social status of police officers, which will increase the prestige of the police in the public opinion and further a more tolerant attitude to ethnic minorities.
  • To avoid law infringement and bloodshed.
  • To avoid criminality on an ethnic basis.
  • To attract leaders of ethnic associations in order to find a way out of a conflict situation.
  • To find peaceful regulations in case of conflict situations.
Further the participants were asked: what is necessary to make such a cooperation possible in Moscow? The answer was first of all: the support of the Moscow government and the Central Directorate of the Internal Affairs. If this support is achieved as in Ekaterinburg, a working group has to be formed in order to work out a detailed program of cooperation. It has to be mentioned here that in the regions Sverdlovsk and Samara, the project has been supported from the very beginning. After our first seminar in the Krasnodar Territory, the local administration has begun to cooperate. On the other hand, Moscow is a special region, if only because more people live there than in all three other regions combined. Therefore Moscow needs a special approach. Who can help to further the interaction of ethnic associations and the police?, asked Ashot Airapetian the seminar participants. The leadership of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the Mayor of Moscow, they answered.

Later on, the seminar participants agreed that the Center for Interethnic Cooperation would address the Moscow city government and the Staff Training Department at the Russian Central Directorate of Internal Affairs in their name with the request to assist the cooperation between ethnic associations and the police. Thus, the last undertaking of the Center in 2004 ended. We invited all police officers to our traditional meeting at the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, the Old New Yearss Day on January 14th. They have promised to come.

On December 21st, the Center for Interethnic Cooperation sent the aforementioned letters to the Mayor of Moscow Yurii Luzhkov and to the head of the Human Resources Department at the Ministry of Internal Affairs Alexander Strelnikov. And two days later on December 23rd at the Independent Press Center, Ashot Airapetian, Polat Dzhalamov, David Beritashvili, leader of the Moscow Georgian Association, and Levon Mukanyan, representative of the Moscow Department of the Union of Armenians in Russia took part in a press conference. They talked about the seminar results, about the necessity of cooperation between ethnic associations and the police, about their willingness to actively take part in this cooperation. Ashot Airapetian announced that the competition of microprojects with an amount of 100.000 rubles has started. The Center for Interethnic Cooperation has won this means for the ethnic associations of Moscow.



1993-2003
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